Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Paramilitary loan sharks may be concerned after paying £600 of energy assistance

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Government funding began last week to help homes facing rising energy bills.

Rev. Brian Anderson has worked with people in debt to paramilitary organizations.

He told UTV: “The danger is they will come looking for you to get their money back because they know you have £600.

“The intention of the money was to help with electricity and energy bills but I’m afraid people might lose it because someone might be asking them to.

“That could lead people into crime if they don’t pay.”

These loan sharks operate in the shadows, often in communities where they live.

You can make money available at short notice.

Siobhan Harding of the Women’s Support Network says low-income households are not able to absorb shocks like a washing machine or oven failure.

“These are necessities of life, and money is often needed urgently or desperately.”

“One woman told us if you need to borrow £1,000 and ask for it in the morning, you’ll have it in the evening and there’s no paperwork or cheques.”

They know their communities well and they know the circumstances, they very often know who is on welfare, they know when people go to work and when they come home, they know who is struggling.”

Interest rates can be extortionate and cause people to fall into a cycle of debt.

UTV has been reported of people paying back up to £40 for every £100 they borrow.

However, if a payment is missed and someone is unable to repay, interest rates can skyrocket.

One example was how a £200 debt shot up to over £800 in a month.

However, paramilitaries offer an alternative way of paying debts, and this often leads to crime.

Rev Anderson says, “It could be storing stuff for paramilitaries or delivering stuff for them.

“They then run the risk of becoming a criminal and a criminal record just because they want to heat their house.”

Siobhan Harding says: “If they find they can’t pay back, the other options can be dangerous.

“There were threats of violence.”

“They may also be asked to pay back things like prescription drugs or access to their benefit books.”

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